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NBA Power Rankings
A look at the five best and worst bets in the NBA
Feb. 7, 2008
Be prepared to change your strategy when betting on the NBA against the spread.
With only five games between first and eighth in the West, every GM in the league has been scrambling to grab that final piece of the puzzle for a championship run.
The biggest shift should be felt in L.A. Already a powerhouse in the West, the Lakers stole versatile All-Star forward Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol should fill the hole left by center Andrew Bynum (out eight weeks with a knee injury), and the Grizzlies were rolling with him in the lineup, going 24-11 ATS.
Sick of being pounded by the big men in the West, the Phoenix Suns traded forward Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to the Heat for star center Shaquille O’Neal. However, Shaq is still nursing injuries and could miss another couple of weeks. Their record could take a hit while waiting for him to return.
Plus, Dallas, Cleveland and Denver are all still looking to grab Nets point guard Jason Kidd via trade. If any of those teams are lucky enough to add the NBA legend, their production and record is sure to shoot up.
That’s something to keep in mind as the NBA trade deadline approaches.
Here are the best and worst bets for Week 15:
5. L.A. Lakers
Did anyone catch Gasol’s 24-point, 12-rebound debut with the Lakers against the New Jersey Nets on Feb. 2? Gasol put on a show with layups and dunks inside, jump shots outside and crisp passes within the triangle offense. Kobe Bryant only had six points in that game, and the Lakers still finished with a 105-90 victory, causing Kobe to hop around happily throughout the contest like a bratty toddler who got his way. It was kind of sickening to see, actually. But Kobe’s giddiness made sense, because the Lakers looked unstoppable.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
“Yeah, it’s that easy,” LeBron James told reporters when asked if a trade for a star like Kidd could bring Cleveland a championship.
“It helps when you have guys on the team that are perennial All-Stars or can go out there and produce every night and you know what you’re going to get.”
Sounds like “Bron Bron” is starting to get a little envious of the Suns and Lakers. Cleveland, you don’t want that. Make a move to make him happy – you don’t want your franchise to go Kobe on you and demand a trade.
3. New Orleans Hornets
The Hornets finally got back on track and snapped a three-game losing streak straight up and ATS by beating a depleted Phoenix Suns team 132-130 in double-OT on Feb. 6. It sucks that they went on a losing streak as soon as I made them No. 1 in my Week 14 rankings, but they’re still one of the best bets in the NBA and have won seven of their last 10.
2. Utah Jazz
Utah is on fire, and if bettors have been paying attention, they should be cashing in. They’re meshing, they’re healthy and new acquisition Kyle Korver is starting to become the three-point assassin they hoped for. They’ve won 12 of their last 15 games ATS and it should continue with games versus Sacramento, Chicago and Seattle for their next three.
1. Orlando Magic
The Magic have been kind of flying under the radar all year as an East Coast contender, boasting the third-best record in the East (32-19) and best record ATS overall (32-18-1). If Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu stay consistent, this squad could make it out of the East.
5. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are one team that needs to get some of its players on the trade market. Even without their numerous injuries (Michael Redd, Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons are all day-to-day with injuries), the Bucks were struggling with losses in seven of 10. It’s evident that they aren’t going anywhere with their current pool of talent, so it’s time to sell every starter except rookie Jianlian.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
Could Andre Miller be the most sought-after and traded player in the NBA this past decade? His lack of an outside touch seems to wear out his welcome with teams quickly, but his strong passing ability always seems to make him a hot pickup for a lot of contenders dying for a floor general. The Sixers are wasting a good opportunity to improve if they don’t get rid of Miller now. After the Gasol trade, his value is likely at its highest, and it’s not like he’s helped Philly play better (23-23-3 ATS and 19-30 SU on the year).
3. Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks are a team that needs to get in the Kidd or Miller trade talks if they haven’t already. They are in desperate need of a point guard, since starter Anthony Johnson isn’t cutting it as a consistent playmaker (averages just 6.8 points and 5.1 assists). The Hawks have the talent to compete in the Eastern Conference. They just need a savvy point to dish the dimes and get every player involved.
2. New Jersey Nets
Every time I watch the New Jersey Nets play, these two things always happen: 1) they’re always losing and 2) Vince Carter is laughing and having a good time with opponents despite losing. I’ve never seen a player care less about winning than Carter, and the Nets aren’t winning often: 2-8 SU and ATS in their last 10, and 4-12 in their last 16. It’s probably a big part of why Kidd wants out of New Jersey.
1. Miami Heat
Finally, some light at the end of this disastrous season for the Heat. If anything, the acquisition of Shawn Marion will help the Heat win more games a lot sooner. They are on one of the worst betting stretches I’ve ever seen, losing seven of 10 ATS and 11 of their last 14. If Miami can use Marion’s strengths as a rebounder and finisher, he should pay off quickly.
More Good (or Bad) Bets
- Is the magic gone in Portland? I’m not sure, but the Blazers have lost eight of 10 ATS after shocking the league in December.
- With Gasol gone to L.A., the Grizzlies have written off any chance of competing this year. They were never any good to begin with, and now they’ll be horrible without 18 and eight nightly from Gasol. Bet against them and cash in.
- Good news! The Clippers are playing like the Clippers, losing seven of their last 10 ATS. Bet against them before oddsmakers realize how bad they are.
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